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The Super Bowl for Luxury Travel Advisors

Over this last year you may have heard me mention Virtuoso in some of my social media posts.

It is the leading global network of travel agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel.

They bring together the top 5% of travel advisors in the country and the top 1,800 travel suppliers, such as hotels, cruise lines, tour operators and more. Last year I was invited to become a Virtuoso travel advisor hosted by Departure Lounge, an innovative agency profiled in the Wall Street Journal.

Last week the networking event of the year for luxury travel advisors took place in Las Vegas. It is Virtuoso Travel Week, which brings together those 1,800 top hotels, cruise lines, safari operators and unique experience providers in the world. It is a packed week of education and networking, anchored by 12 minute “speed-dating” style meetings each morning to learn more about the suppliers who delight travelers around the world.

Among my 75 meetings over the course of the week, there are several that really stood out:

Celebrity Cruises - I met several executives from this luxury line and heard details of their return to service and new itineraries to Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean.

Rosewood Hotel St. Barths - My new friend Thibaut told me about the “south of France” that is only two hours from Miami: St. Barths in the Caribbean.

Italy Hotel & Villa Providers – I met with many boutique properties who can provide rooms with a view of the Colosseum or a rustic villa in Tuscany. Not only do they provide accommodations,

we can also arrange for clients to participate in cooking classes, vineyard tours and even a private breakfast in the Sistine Chapel before the Vatican opens.

Silversea Cruises – I got to meet Mark Conroy, Managing Director of Silversea Cruises. He told me about their new expedition ships and all the new health protocols to keep travelers safe.

Backroads – this longtime favorite of active travelers to Europe feature incredible chateau to chateau bike trips in France and throughout the continent with full van support and wonderful food each night.

Intercontinental Bora Bora - there are many overwater bungalows in French Polynesia, but the location of this property provides better views of nearby Mt. Otemanu and I think the amenities are better here.

After several days of great meetings with travel suppliers from around the world, we finished the week with a really fun event at Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders. My host agency, Departure Lounge, even had team jerseys for the event.

So while we have known the quality of the hotels and cruises we send our clients to, this was the week where we also got to meet the specific people taking care of our clients. Relationships are more important than ever, and this week connected me with the suppliers who provide some of the best travel experiences in the world.

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